Katzenjammer kids

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  Beware of temptation - it's always waiting around the corner to ambush a person.  No matter how strong the resolve to not buy another doll, here it goes again!

While cruising on Pinterest where I thought I'd be safe, looking at Kathe Kruse dolls, I found one which interested me a lot. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was from an auction house and the doll was going up for auction in 30 days.  It seemed harmless enough and the opening bid was low enough, so I decided to watch it along with three other Kathe Kruse Deutsche Kind boy dolls.  Naturally, I thought that if he went at a reasonable price I'd bid and maybe win him.  I should have determined then what a "reasonable price" meant; the day of the auction I kept raising my reserve bid.  In the end, I won this doll for far more than I had ever planned to pay. That's ok because I liked him then and I really like him now. I'll come clean and confess that I have to fight the urge to collect all-original KK 50 cm Deutsche Kind boy dolls.  I slipped but I'm back on the wagon now.

Does anyone remember the Katzenjammer Kids, a comic strip in the funny papers?  It  debuted in 1897 and then ran from 1912 to 1942 in US newspapers.  It was the story of two German brothers, Hans and Fritz, who were always rebelling against authority.







It may interest you to know that Hans has been living here with me incognito, having changed the colour of his hair from black to blonde.  Although I didn't know it at the time of bidding, Fritz, a natural blonde, was the boy in the auction; now, he has joined his brother, Hans.

Auction listing photo.

Auction listing photo

Auction listing photo

Auction listing photo

This doll wears an original onesie and a one piece outer outfit; the shoes are maybe KK but new and the socks are replaced. In examining him, I am convinced he has never been played with. He has no wear marks or soiling and the outfit is still crisp.  There are some small stains on the body but these are definitely from poor storage.  

I didn't realise his age at the time when I bid and it was not given in the auction listing, which makes me conclude that the seller isn't an expert on KK dolls (and, neither am I for that matter).  Since Hans' arrival, I have purchased all the available printed materials in English on KK doll.  Now, after reading and studying them, in addition to other internet sources, I have a passable knowledge of the Deutsche Kind dolls.  I have come to the conclusion that Fritz is from the earliest manufacture of this type of doll, either 1929 or 1930. I compared him to Hans and Friedebald.  They are both the same size but the body has two remarkable differences.  First, the mouths are not painted the same.  Fritz has the early heart-shaped mouth which was replaced by the oval mouth (what I call "bee-stung lips) in 1930.  Both Hans and Friedebald have the oval lips which was the style used after 1930. Second, on the earliest dolls, the elbow of the left arm is bent at an angle and the knees are slightly bent.  By the end of 1930, the knees and elbow were straightened.    Fritz has the bent joints.  Fritz is heavier than either Friedebald or Hans and can stand on his own. The facial painting is in-line with the earlier style, having a more delicate paintwork; the eyes are beautifully done.

This doll's face was made from a sculpture of Kathe Kruse's younger son's (Friedebald) head.  These dolls were begun to be manufactured in 1929.  As I compare the facial painting of Fritz with my Friedebald and Hans (date-stamped 15.1.1943) I can see the later painting differs from the earlier.  It makes me wonder if the earlier is a more accurate representation of how Friedebald himself looked.  He would have been young in 1929-30 and would have been known at the doll factory.  My Friedebald and Hans were manufactured later and the boy Friedebald would have looked older which may account for the differences in the look of the face.  There is always the difference in painting styles of the various artists employed by KK to take into account.

To sum up, I am over the moon to get a Deutsche Kind from the first 2 years of their manufacture.  One of the other DK boy doll in the auction went for about $800 USD more than I paid for Fritz.  He was all-original and in great shape but I don't think he was as old.

Below are photos of the three boys to show comparisons.  This posting is really just an indulgence of my residual doll collecting fervour.  Enjoy!

At home in New Zealand


Friedebald, Fritz and Hans

Boys lying down to show comparison

Friedebald and Fritz to show difference in facial colour painting and lips.

Fritz and Hans to show similarities and differences.  Although Fritz's head looks larger than the others', they all measure the same.  Note the difference in the painting of the lips.

Friedebald and Hans showing the similarities of the eye painting which is different from Fritz.  Both have the oval mouths.

Hans and Fritz showing the difference in the elbow, bent for Fritz, straight for Hans.

This shoe is like the pair Hans wore when he arrived.  I need to do more research on original KK shoes.
A change of clothes to give Fritz a different look.   

Fritz

Hans

"OK.  So, now what do we do?"
I should end by saying that I am not an expert, only an enthusiast who knows how to research and apply the knowledge to the dolls.  I can only go by what the authors of books on Kathe Kruse dolls have published.  I make no claims of infallibility.

You are probably wondering why I would purchase another Deutsche Kind doll.  I'll answer with Emory's famous line from the movie The Boys in the Band: "Oh Mary, don't ask!"


Comments

  1. Three amazing lads, and so interesting to read about the research you have done to discover their history. Oh and not wondering at all why you would purchase another, I fully understand the reasoning and anyway they are not at all the same, but quite different in so many subtle ways. I do like the face painting of Fritz. He is in amazing condition.

    I discovered I had missed your introduction of Friedebald, and had to go and look - it was while I was away.

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  2. How wonderful :) I read with great interest about your dolls and the research you've done. I bought my Sasha doll because I'd wanted one as a child, but now I see how it is to be an enthusiast and to have a real love for a doll. The more I read about Sasha dolls the more I learn about the different kinds and styles; the way the eyes and lips are painted, the different face shapes and all those other little details that make them so unique. Ezri is becoming so much more than 'just a doll' :) Jane x

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  3. Fritz is wonderful! I completely understand why you would want him. So much of collecting is the process of discovery and there are a lot of nuances that you just can't appreciate from pictures in a book. I love the subtle differences like the bent arms. As with Sasha dolls, it's so interesting to study the evolution over time. I always think that trios look so much more interesting than pairs.

    I actually remember a Saturday morning TV cartoon version of the Katzenjammer Kids. They were always scheming in their little German accents. At typical exchange:

    Hans: Mamma putz da pies out to cool,
    Fritz: Und ve take dem und run!

    You better be careful from now on where you leave your pies to cool!
    Steve

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  4. What a great find! He seems to be in beautiful condition, so I understand you couldn't resist him. The blue cardigan you gave him suits him very well.

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  5. Congratulations on your new boy Fritz, he just just wonderful! I had to smile when you say you thought you'd watch the auction...and a reasonable bid... Mmm I know those bids well ;)
    But what a glorious boy to have won and then for him to be such an early boy in such wonderful condition !
    Well done you!
    And as for having three well they always need a friend or two or three...
    I think if you like a style or look of a doll you'll have all the ones that call to you as Fritz did, you believed it was your decision... no so.. these dolls know just who to snare to get a good loving home. :)
    and like you I'd be grinning every time I saw him sitting with his brothers passing the time of day and I'd certainly want to share him with everyone.
    So thanks for sharing him with us and no that's not a tinge of green.... ;)

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  6. How lovely to have triplets. Congratulations, Jesse, they are all wonderful boys.
    I have looked at older KK boys many, many times but never bought one... yet! The fact the there were so many lovely boys is a great draw as, though I like my girls, boy dolls were always my passion.
    Happy International Doll Day to you and all your boys.
    Jenni

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